Wednesday, March 5, 2008

NVTA Stops Collecting Taxes; Prepares Refunds

Today's Washington Examiner reports that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is preparing to refund the millions of dollars of unconstitutional taxes it has collected since Jan. 1 and has halted tax collections.

?We have gotten the word out to all folks who have been collecting the taxes. That?s been done,? NVTA Chairman Chris Zimmerman said Tuesday. ?We have people working on the next question: What to do with the refunds.?

The agency advised taxpayers who rented, repaired, bought or registered cars, as well as anyone who stayed in a hotel room or sold a house to hold onto their receipts and documents to prepare for the coming rebates.

Although the NVTA could decide Thursday to ask the state?s highest court to reconsider its unanimous decision, Zimmerman said such a motion is unlikely.

WTOP Radio reports that about $8 million has been taken in so far, but none of it has been spent. Below is the complete list of the seven fees and taxes which can no longer be collected:

  • 2 percent transient occupancy tax
  • Grantor's tax of 40 cents per $100 of valuation
  • 2 percent tax on vehicle rentals
  • Safety inspection fee of $10
  • Initial vehicle registration fee of 1 percent
  • 5 percent sales tax on auto repair
  • Regional vehicle registration fee of $10

Meanwhile, in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said it was doubtful the problems caused by the courts ruling can be resolved by Saturday's scheduled adjournment of the Virginia General Assembly.

Kaine stopped short of calling for a special session and said he was encouraged that the leaders were talking with "a sense of urgency." But he said at a news conference that more time likely will be needed.

Kaine also threw cold water on a solution offered by House and Senate Republicans that would let local elected officials impose the taxes authorized by regional transportation authorities. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Friday that an unelected body could not impose taxes.

The special authorities had been set up in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

"The court said, 'General Assembly, if you want to do this, you got to do it yourself,'" Kaine said. "Asking local governments to take the hard work of getting somebody else to do your job, ain't a solution."

Kaine said the legislators need to address two issues: finding money for the regional transportation authorities and finding statewide maintenance money.

The paper added that although the state supreme court ruling did not directly apply to Hampton Roads, Kaine said it made any proposed taxes from the Hampton Roads authority moot. The Hampton Roads authority has not yet begun collecting taxes.

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